Thursday, 26 February 2015

163. Mental Health Stigma in Students ft. The Priory

Mental Health, and my relationship with it, is something that I've discussed on the blog before and I got a wonderful response from you, my readers; some of whom had been through similar things and could empathise and relate to what I'd written. It was a lovely feeling to know that the post had made at least one person feel better, or less alone and ostracized.

I was recently contacted by The Priory, regarding a new campaign they are running to raise awareness of mental health conditions in students. As this is a subject so close to home for me, I really wanted to share some of their information and resources with you. 

According to a new study, over 60% of students have struggled to believe when a friend or acquaintance has told them they're suffering from a mental health condition. It's no secret that many people struggle to believe in mental health problems; as they're easy to hide, they often affect the people you would least expect, and they are mental and emotional, compared to a physical issue which you would be able to see.

Further research also found that a quarter of students feel uncomfortable when talking to their peers about mental health, and that a shocking 50% of them have received negative backlash as a result of speaking out about mental health issues, such as depression and anxiety. Although I'm not a student, I am still within the student age range and many of my friends are currently studying; I felt exactly the same about discussing my anxiety and only opened up to a few close friends before I decided to share my story on here, mainly for the fear (as echoed in the above statistics) that people would not believe me, or would think I was exaggerating. It's awful that this stigma is still attached to mental health. 

Dr Ian Drever, Consultant Psychiatrist at the Priory Hospital Woking explained:
“Going to university is a time of real life change for young people, what with them leaving home, having very different looking days and a whole set of new stresses and social surroundings. Whenever change happens in people’s lives it’s a sort of pinch point when anxiety or indeed any form of mental illness, is more likely to arise. If students are also being subjected to isolation and stigma, this can heighten illness and make it more likely to arise in the first place.”

He recommended that: “Students need to keep an eye out for the signs they may be developing a mental health condition, including problems sleeping, concentrating, and being sociable. Although it’s easier said than done I think it’s important that students share how they feel with a close friend or a healthcare professional. They need to acknowledge to themselves that they are not well, or not happy, and that it’s time to get help.”

University, college and school are all environments that can easily become stressful and associated with negative feelings, so it's easy to understand why students are so prone to mental health issues. My main advice would be the same as The Priory's: speak to someone. Whether it's a friend, a teacher, a family member or a healthcare professional - it helps just to get it out in the open and lift that weight from your shoulders. 

Rather than letting depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, eating disorders, agoraphobia, anger issues or any other mental health problem affect your quality of life please, please do something about it.

The Priory have rehabilitation centres and specialist consultants nationwide - you can view their website here

*** I received no reimbursement in any shape or form, financial or otherwise, for this blog post. Diagrams are taken from this source, and the statistics were provided for me by The Priory ***

Saturday, 21 February 2015

162. Chilli Cheese Scone Recipe

Hello lovelies.

Today I'm sharing a failsafe, super simple recipe for cheese scones - with a (spicy) twist. I've made these scones several times and I've adapted the recipe slightly each time, and I think I've finally nailed it, so here is my recipe for Chilli Cheese Scones.

225g plain flour
50g room temperature cubed butter
3tsp baking powder
140ml milk
150g grated cheese (preferably mature cheddar)
Pinch of salt & pepper
1tsp chilli powder or chopped chilli's (Very Lazy Chilli works well)
JalapeƱos to top
Cheese to top

1. Preheat your oven to 220c or Gas Mark 6
2. Mix together the flour, baking powder and butter with your finger tips to create a breadcrumb effect
3. Add the milk and cheese and quickly mix together
4. Add your seasoning (as much or as little as you want)
5. On a lightly floured surface, mould the mixture into scone shapes (I made 8)
6. Place the scones on a greased tray (I used Chilli FryLight to add some extra spice) with a decent space between each one, as they will expand during baking
7. Sprinkle the top of the scones with some cheese and add a jalapeno
8. Bake in the middle of the pre-heated oven for around 20 minutes but make sure to check on them as they can so easily burn
9. Serve with lashings of butter, or with pickle if you fancy!

Thursday, 19 February 2015

161. The Mud Crab, Sheffield

Hello lovelies.

On Monday, I headed down to Sheffield with my family to visit my sister, Fi, who is studying at university down there. I mentioned in my previous post that I baked some delicious carrot cake cupcakes as part of my sisters present, so you can find that recipe here

Whilst we were in Sheffield we, of course, had to get some food. Nowadays I can't go anywhere without having to stop for a bite to eat, and Fi had picked up out a restaurant for us to try. Mud Crab, situated on Ecclesall Road, is a modern, casual, American style restaurant.

The interior is great, with booths, large tables and comfy, retro seats, and plenty of quirky decoration such as a rusty, old bike propped up outside the entrance, which caught my brothers eye.

The menu is substantial without being overwhelming and there are a range of meat and fish dishes, pizzas and burgers, as well as starters, sharing platters, sides, desserts and even breakfasts (the pancakes sounded delicious!)

I opted for the Pulled Pork Potato Skin Sliders (£4.50) as my starter and I wasn't disappointed. About ten minutes after ordering, I received a generous portion, piled high with tender pulled pork and barbecue sauce. The flavours were absolutely spot on and the size was perfect for a starter. My two sisters went for the Seasonal Soup from the Two Course Lunch (a special offer, giving you two courses for just £11.95!) and said it was really tasty. My brother chose the Paprika Fried Calamari (£6) which came served with hot sauce and looked incredible, whilst Dad went for the classic Special Fried Chicken (£6) with barbecue dip. 

Whilst my two sisters chose from the Two Course Lunch menu, I settled on the Devil Chicken Breast Bun which was a mammoth burger of chicken breast, pickled watermelon salad, chipotle mayo, hot sauce and a giant portion of fries. The fries, first of all, were gorgeous and tasted just like one of my guilty pleasures: McDonald's fries. The chicken was tender and well seasoned and the sauces and salad complimented each other perfectly. My sisters went for a gorgeous (but small portion of) Chorizo, Spring Onion & Saffron Risotto and one of Mud Crab's signature UFO Pizza's, respectively. My dad chose the 2nd Best Cheeseburger whilst my brother opted for the most expensive item on the menu, the Grilled with Love BBQ Tray which looked epic. 
Being the little piggies that we are, we all chose a third course too. My brother and dad chose coffees whilst us girls were tempted by the small, but ample, dessert menu. Although my youngest sister initially picked Fresh Churros, they had none left (you should have seen her face) so she was recommended their most popular dessert, 'Snickers' Mess (£6 - brownie, ice cream, meringue, chocolate sauce and Snickers). I liked the sound of Baked Alaska (£5.50) so chose to try that for the first time, whilst my other sister picked the Bourbon Sticky Toffee Pudding (£5.50) which they served with ice cream instead of clotted cream, at her request.
I thoroughly enjoyed all three courses of my meal, and the service from our waiter was spot on too. He was friendly without being overbearing, food and drinks were served quickly and politely and the atmosphere of the whole restaurant was great. We stayed for a good two hours, enjoying our food and the opportunity to all catch up together (it's amazing how rarely families catch up once the kids are that little bit older). 

As Mud Crab offer 20% student discount (on food), our whole bill came to around £95 which, at just under £20 per person, is - in my opinion - a great deal for there courses and a drink each. 

If you're ever in Sheffield, check Mud Crab out - you won't regret it. 

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

160. Baking with Aldi - Carrot Cake

Hello lovelies.

Any of you that are aware of the rising cost of groceries, will know Aldi. Aldi is, compared to the other big supermarkets, a budget supermarket with great, low price products and its where S and I, without fail, do our weekly shop week in, week out. 

A couple of weeks ago, whilst browsing the aisles, I spotted their baking section and, within that, this carrot cake mix. Carrot cake is one of my all time favourites, it's got just the right amount of spice and doesn't feel too unhealthy (although it surely is!). I quickly picked up a packet - for £1.70 you can't go wrong - and put it aside to use for my sisters birthday, which we celebrated yesterday.

Wright's Carrot Cake Mix (500g)
4 tbsp oil
200ml water
1. Pour the oil and water into a large mixing bowl
2. Add the contents of the cake mix
3. Stir until well mixed and a smooth consistency
4. Add any extras, e.g. raisins, extra carrot, etc
5. Separate the mixture into twelve cupcake cases or a loaf tin
6. Bake in a pre-heated oven (gas mark 6) for 20 minutes or until cooked through

I then left the perfectly risen cupcakes to cool for an hour, before returning to the kitchen to decorate them. For this, I used some of Aldi's Cake Angel's vanilla icing which comes in a large tub for less than £2. The flavour is absolutely delicious - sweet but not sickly and it's the perfect consistency to either top muffins and cupcakes, or sandwich two layers of cake together.

I used around 2/3 of the tub to generously cover the twelve cupcakes, and the rest is back in the fridge ready to be devoured. 

To make these birthday cupcakes look even prettier, I used a gorgeous cupcake box from The Range, although I unfortunately can't find this product on the website - I don't think it was any more than £1. Bargain.
I took the cupcakes with me down to Sheffield to visit my sister, Fi, for her 20th birthday and they went down a treat. It's so lovely to be able to bake something tasty for someone to enjoy on a special day and, if you're looking for something simple and - dare I say it - cheap and cheerful, this is the perfect solution.

Sunday, 15 February 2015

159. Sunday Summary

Hello lovelies.

I hope you've all had an amazing week. The weather has been pretty hit and miss and we're well into the month, meaning that many peoples funds are beginning to run low (including mine!) but here's what I've been up to, nonetheless.

The week got off to a pretty boring start as I was working Monday and in the evening S and I just stayed in and relaxed, but I did treat myself to chip shop chips for lunch as I'd been craving them for weeks! We also got started on the awesome Better Call Saul which is available on Netflix. S's brother and his girlfriend welcomed their new baby boy, Roman, into the world on Monday too which was lovely news!

My Granny's beautiful engagement ring which I had resized and collected on Monday.

On Tuesday I treated myself to getting my hair cut and coloured at my favourite local salon, Transcend. I arrived with horrifically thick, tatty hair with a million and one split ends but left, four hours and two cups of tea later, with smoother, lighter, sleeker locks. I only lost about 2" of length so I was really pleased. Mum, her partner and I headed off to the cinema to watch Selma on Tuesday night and I can't recommend it highly enough; such a wonderful film.

Again Wednesday was spent at work - snore! - but Comic Relief's Bake Off more than made up for it. What a great line up for the first episode, I couldn't stop laughing and it made me really want to get back into baking!

On Thursday, I caught up with one of my best friends over a hot chocolate and a game of Peggle! It was fab to have a few hours to see each other and I can't wait for us to do it again soon. I also had my first ever filling on Thursday (which I then followed up immediately with a Gregg's pasty!) which was a much easier procedure than I was anticipating - what a relief.

After work on Friday I, as usual, headed over to my dads for the night. He made a delicious dinner of mince pie, wedges and veggies, and we had a nice, lazy evening watching the television. I even got to share the bed with our (outdoor) cat which was an unexpected - but lovely - surprise.

Saturday was a big day at work as I was left to dispense (advise and sell glasses) as well as pre-screen patients, which isn't something I normally do, but thankfully it went well with no major hitches. I met S late afternoon and we visited his brother and his girlfriend to meet baby Roman who - I can confirm - is adorable. After a couple of hours swooning, we popped in on one of S's other brothers for a bit of a catch up before heading back to Dad's for an Indian takeaway and a movie. It may have been a low key valentine's day but it was perfect.

Today we had a mini shopping trip in Carlisle where we picked up a few household bargains from The Range, including some photo frames, candles and kitchen accessories. Mum and her partner cooked us a delicious beef Sunday roast which was so yummy (although we had just eaten a McDonald's too - oops!) and, as always, it was lovely to spend a couple of hours with Mum. After calling in on S's mum, Grandma (who gifted us some gorgeous knitted goodies for the baby) and his third (and final) brother, I came home to a tasty cottage pie cooked by my Dad and baked some cupcakes which I'll share on here next week.

All in all, its been a really lovely week. Its been all about family and love which, as cheesy as it sounds, really is all that matters.

How has your week been?
Did you celebrate Valentine's Day?

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

158. 21 Week Pregnancy Update

I'm now past the halfway stage of my pregnancy! I'm now 21 weeks pregnant which means I'm be closer to the end than the start, which is a nice feeling as I can't wait for this little bean to make an appearance.

Since my announcement one month ago time has really flown by. I feel like once it was out in the open and I was able to talk about it more, the days and weeks merged together and, before I knew it, it was time for our 20 week scan.

Shane and I travelled to Newcastle's RVI hospital last Monday for the scan; both feeling ridiculously excited and, of course, nervous too. I've mentioned before that you go such a long time between scans that, if you don't feel much - or even, any - movements, it can be a scary and tense time, which is how it was for me as I've only felt the odd flutter and kick.. but I'm hoping that they will become much more frequent now. 

We had decided that we wanted to find out the gender of our baby and so we told the sonographer this when she led us in to the ultrasound room. I lay down on my back, got my growing belly out and we got going. It's an incredible feeling when you see your little one pop up on the screen and, even more amazing, when you see it's little heart beating ten to the dozen right in front of you. Words can't even describe, as any mum will know.

Your 20 week scan is also known as your anomaly scan, where the sonographer checks all of the babies vital organs and takes several measurements, to ensure that everything is on track and progressing as it should be. Our sonographer struggled to find one part of the heart initially which meant I had my heart in my mouth for about five minutes but, eventually, she found it and we were able to relax as she reassured us that everything was as it should be. Phewph. 

Now comes the exciting issue of gender. S and I had thought, from our very first scan, that we were having a baby boy, for several reasons. 1) He comes from a family of 4 boys, and his father is one of 5 boys, b) The baby was so stubborn and mischievous at our 12 week scan that we just thought it seemed like a little lad (which I know is so stereotypical, sorry boys!) and we'd even picked out a name; we were that sure.

Oh, how wrong we were. We're expecting a baby girl! I couldn't contain my excitement when this was announced as I've always wanted a little girl, although I would have been equally happy with a baby boy too, of course. And - you never know! -  the scan may be wrong...

So, how have I been feeling lately? Well, I've been very achy and my tiredness that I struggled with in my first trimester has come back with a vengeance which isn't great when I'm facing long days at work and trying to fit in catching up with friends and family too. 

Emotionally, I'm feeling pretty good. I haven't cried for a good few weeks and my snappy temper seems to have toned it down (I'm sure S is thankful for that!). My sleep seems to be improving too and I'm not getting up as many times during the night for the loo either.

My appetite has most definitely increased and I'm really loving marmite on toast and a big glass of cold milk at the minute, although I'm trying to keep my fat intake down - just in case this discomfort does turn out to be gallstones! Urgh. 

There is still no weight gain - in fact, I've lost a couple of pounds in the last week by being poorly - but my tummy has certainly begun to POP and my breasts feel a lot heavier too. 

My baby bump is definitely beginning to make an appearance!

I start my Pregnancy Yoga classes soon and I'm really looking forwards to it as I'll meet other pregnant women and the classes are intended to reduce stress and anxiety, as well as providing you with techniques to use during childbirth, which is something that I'm still trying not to think about just yet! 

In general, I'm feeling pretty good. Everything is still going smoothly and our baby appears healthy. My friends, family and work colleagues continue to be an incredible support and I just can't wait for S and I to be introduced to our little girl.

Sunday, 8 February 2015

157. Sunday Summary

Hello lovelies.

Here's my weekly round up - it's been a fairly quiet week but with some lovely bits and pieces thrown in too.

On Monday, S and I went to Newcastle for our 20 week anomaly scan (I'll be blogging about this next week!) and it was incredible. It's such a lovely feeling to see your little one on the screen - it makes it all the more real. We're now halfway through the pregnancy so I can begin the countdown!

After our scan, which took about an hour as we had to wait a while, we headed over to Zapatista for some delicious Mexican food. I've written a review here, which you should definitely check out if you're looking for somewhere to eat in Newcastle - I can't recommend it highly enough.

On Tuesday, I was still stupidly excited about our scan, especially as we received the news I'd been wanting to hear (all will be revealed next week, if you don't already know!) so even a trip to the dentist couldn't dampen my spirits. Half an hour later, I left knowing that I'd have to have my first ever filling - gutted isn't even the word. It's my own fault for drinking all those cans of fizzy pop though!

I met up with a friend for a tasty lunch and a catch up which was great, and then I headed over to my Dad's for the night where me, Dad and my sister caught up with Breaking Bad and had a nice, chilled out evening.

Wednesday morning meant I was back to work, all on my lonesome, but I had a trip to my Mum's to make up for it, so the day went surprisingly quickly. Me and my sister headed over to Mum's where she'd cooked us a really great Indian feast of curry, rice, naan, pickles and chutney - it was so good, and I was stuffed by the time we finished. Mum and I spent the rest of the night watching TV and having a natter.

Mum's delicious Indian meal // Our Pudding Palour treats on Saturday

Thursday was a lazy day and I spent most of it lying on my Mum's sofa reading David Walliams' autobiography 'Camp David'. I'm about half way through and it's so, so good. I've laughed out loud on a few occasions and it's great to get to know a bit more about him. 

On Friday, it was back to work again but - once more - I had something to look forwards to so the day flew over. At 4:30pm, we headed into town to pick up my new phone, which is a beautiful Motorola Moto G (2nd Gen) - I love it already, even after just a couple of days! The screen is huge, it takes great photos, it's fast and the battery life is a hell of a lot better than my previous phone, the iPhone 4S which I couldn't wait to get rid of. 

As always, Saturday morning was spent working at the quieter of our three practices but, as I get away at 1pm, it always goes over pretty fast. Before I knew it, I was on my way back home (having not seen S since Tuesday afternoon!). After the dreaded food shop was out of the way, S cooked us chilli for tea, picked up some goodies from The Pudding Parlour and we pulled the mattress and all our bedding into the living room to watch The Voice and The Jonathon Ross show. 

Today is my favourite kind of day: a lazy day. We haven't got any plans so it's a day of chilling out on the sofa, playing XBOX and watching tele. I might even throw a cheeky bubble bath in for good measure.

How has your week been?

Friday, 6 February 2015

156. Zapatista Burrito Bar

Hello lovelies.

On Monday, S and I ventured into Newcastle for an appointment at the hospital, and decided we'd treat ourselves afterwards. A month or so ago, we had passed Zapatista Burrito Bar, on Grainger Street, on our way to the train station and, after checking out the mouth-watering Mexican menu. vowed to return soon to try it out for size. And that's exactly what we did.

Situated just a couple of minutes from both the centre of town and the train station, Zapatista is in the perfect location for both people visiting Newcastle for the day, or people nipping out for a quick and tasty bite to eat on their lunch break.

The interior of Zapatista is also an awesome touch. It's modern, stylish and cool. The tables are high, with colourful bar stools to perch on, and the upstairs seating area has an almost communal feel to it which I think is great as it means they can cater for larger groups, as well as creating a relaxed, casual atmosphere even if you're just there by yourself or as a couple, amongst other groups and couples. 

We arrived at around 12:30pm and, although there were a few tables taken up, it didn't take long to get served. We made our way to the counter where we could see all the delicious, fresh fillings in front of us, and checked out the menu before deciding what to order. I went for the shredded chilli beef burrito, with rice, mild (Pinto) beans, hot (tomato, chipotle and chilli) salsa and a touch of lettuce and cheese. 

The burritos are made right in front of your eyes by friendly, helpful staff who were more than happy to answer our questions and were very patient as we spent quite a while deciding what to go for! S also went for the shredded chilli beef burrito but with spicy (Black Turtle) beans and one of the milder salsas instead. 

We opted for large 7Up's to go with our burritos as we, quite rightly, anticipated they might be a little spicy! Thankfully, we both love spicy food (I've been known to add coriander or chillies to almost every savoury dish I prepare) and we managed to work (believe me, these burritos are big!) through our meal within about 15 or 20 minutes and we were still able to walk, despite being full to burst! 

Our entire meal cost just £12.60 for the two burritos and two large drinks. If burritos aren't really your cup of tea, Zapatista offer a range of dishes from fajitas to tacos to chilli and rice. They even have churros which according to New Girl in Toon are delicious. We will definitely be trying them out next time!

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

155. 100 Day Spending Ban - Two Weeks In...

Hello lovelies.

I'm now two weeks into my 100 day spending ban, which I wrote about here. My aim was to save money and cut down on how much of my wage I waste on stuff that, to be honest, I really don't need each month.

I've had a couple of slip ups but I'm still feeling pretty proud. So, what have I bought?

I ran out of powder so I had to repurchase my usual -  which was only £3.99 from Superdrug. Not bad for a product that I can't do without, and that'll last me for months. As I mentioned in my spending ban rules, repurchasing something essential is okay, so this was a totally guilt-free purchase.

It's my sisters 20th birthday in a couple of weeks so I needed to buy her a present. I managed to snap up a few cute bits and pieces on ASOS, as well as a personalised card from MoonPig, for around the £10 mark. I mentioned in my rules that gifts were okay to spend money on, within reason, so I won't beat myself up about this.

I've been toying with the idea of getting some specs for months. I work in an opticians so I get my contact lenses for free but, to be honest, they're a real faf and by the end of the day my eyes are so tired that they begin to hurt, so wearing contacts isn't ideal. I managed to get a pair of gorgeous matte purple Raybans for under £25 (the perks of being an optical assistant!), so I was over the moon. I put them on my credit card which means I've broken two rules in one go but they're not a whimsical purchase, they're an essential that will last years. 

S and I move house in just under three weeks and it's a bigger place which means we need more 'stuff' to fill the space. We've got a gorgeous, period fireplace in the new living room and we wanted something to hang above it. After a good hour of browsing mirrors, paintings and posters, we found an amazing Breaking Bad canvas (which has now sold out!) for just £30 on Ebay, so I snapped it up instantly. I know it's not a necessity but, c'mon there were only two left, and I didn't want to miss out!

I start my pregnancy yoga classes next week and, as exercise is a complete no-go-zone for me usually, I had no work out gear in my wardrobe. I'm also getting to the point now where some of my clothes are getting a little snug and uncomfortable around my tummy. Whilst choosing my sisters presents on ASOS, I took advantage of the free delivery on orders over £20 offer and bought a pair of leggings and a loose vest for just £13 so now I can look stylish and be comfortable during classes.

Other than these items, I've had a trip to Greggs (sorry but I just can't resist their steak bakes!) and the odd bottle of pop or bar of chocolate on my lunch break, which will never break the bank but, nevertheless, it's not helpful. 

I'm so proud that I haven't slipped up and splurged in Superdrug or on the Lush website (believe me, I was tempted when I saw their new range of Valentine's Day products) that I think I can forget about the things I've bought that I didn't really need. I'd say I've probably spent about £75 in the last fornight that I could have done without (so that's the glasses, the extra bits of food, the yoga outfit and the canvas) but, believe you me, it's a lot better than usual.

Are you taking part in a spending ban? 
What are your weaknesses when it comes to spending money?